Lisbon Airport will close for five months at the start of next year as it undergoes work which will increase its capacity. The closure will happen overnight in January 2020 until the summer months to allow the airport to expand.
A closed airport shuts off some routes
According to an expat forum in Lisbon, the city’s airport will be closing for crucial expansion works between 23:30 and 06:00 starting January 2020. The airport anticipates work expanding taxiways and aircraft parking will last for a maximum of six months. And the reason behind it all? The €1 billion construction will help growth in the capital from foreign travel.
It all sounds promising but the work is not without aggravation. Whilst officials have taken measures to avoid the busiest travel times in the day, the news does not rest easy with some airlines. Although the work proposes to afford more flexibility, for a short time it will hinder some airlines’ flight schedules.
Flights will not be allowed to operate between the times of the airport closure which has forced low-cost airline easyJet to alter some of its routes. The airline has even had to ax its Lisbon to Lille service which normally operates between these times.
Positive long-term future
Whilst the news comes as a blow for easyJet, the long-term future of the airport is positive. What is soon to be a small inconvenience to most will later create opportunities for exisiting and future airline investment. The work will expand the airport. It means that Lisbon will be able to facilitate more aircraft allowing existing airlines to increases their services. But it will also make room for new airlines and new services as well.
Even airlines like easyJet are able to see the benefit in this. The Country Manager for Portugal at easyJet said the work would be worth it in the end. José Lopes commented on the airport closure in a press conference reported by Portuguese publication Economia. He said:
“It’s the growing pains until there is bigger capacity at the airport…”
Bandaging a missing limb
That’s a positive outlook on the situation from easyJet. But there is opposition to the planned work.
Some airlines have recently been lucky enough to start new services to and from Lisbon. They include the likes of Qatar and Asiana Airlines. But Lisbon Airport currently does not demonstrate a good enough profile for growth. That’s what these overnight works aim to tackle. However, some suggest that investing in Lisbon Portela Airport is not the right strategy.
There is another airport in Lisbon on the cards whose plans have been surfaced and buried for many years now. With air traffic increasing, Portela will be unable to manage customer demand. In 2017, a new airport was supposed to open in Lisbon but that did not happen. Instead, the government paused the development and the plans to launch services from Lisbon Montijo Airport were only reinstated again in 2018. Lisbon now plans to open its new airport in 2022. Some suggest that putting more money into getting Montijo up and running would be the priority in the present climate.
But in the meantime, the work at Lisbon Portela will certainly help to relieve some of the capacity issues Portugal is likely to face in the years leading up to the opening of its second airport. We might be looking at the expansion of other airlines in the capital alongside this growth.
We contacted Lisbon Airport for their comment on this story but they were unavailable at the time of publication.
Will you be impacted by the Lisbon Airport closures? Do you foresee large-scale growth arriving in Portugal? Let us know in the comments.